Four O’Clock: Poisoning problems it causes in Dogs

Four O'Clock

Mirabilis jalapa is a flowering plant known by one of its common names, Four O’clock. This plant grows in South and Central America as well as the Southwestern United States.  The flower is ornamental (pet poison) and the flowers usually open between afternoon and dusk (4 to 8 o’clock), which gives origin to its name.

The plants grow to be about 35 inches tall. Its flowers come in a variety of colors and a beautiful funnel shape.

Why is Mirabilis jalapa Dangerous to Dogs?

The plants of Mirabilis jalapa contain an alkaloid that in large doses can be moderately toxic. The roots and seeds contain the alkaloid trigonelline. This alkaloid can cause irritation to the skin and to the digestive tract if ingested.

Luckily, dogs will unlikely chew on the roots of the plant. The main concern then is for them not to come into contact with seeds as they can chew or swallow them. If they do, however, symptoms of an upset stomach are mild and pass by themselves.

Important care that you should have with your dog is to keep him away from your neighbor’s four o’clock plants. If you have a dog breed that usually likes to dig, maybe you want to avoid this plant in your backyard. You can train your pup to not dig but you can risk him coming in contact with the plant during the training period.

Symptoms of Four O’clock Poisoning in Dogs

If your dog has come into contact or has been ingesting significant amounts of seeds or roots, he will probably display the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Redness and irritation around the mouth
  • Skin rash
  • Dermatitis


Remove any remains of the plant from your dog’s muzzle. Clean it gently with a cloth. Offer your dog water or milk to try to dissolve the alkaloid from his system. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by the veterinarian. For most of the time, the symptoms will pass and your dog will be ok.

If your dog ingested too many seeds, the veterinarian will induce vomiting to try to flush his stomach. He will then prescribe medication to move the toxins through the system faster.

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